Early Learning Systems: Preparing your Child for her Future
Learning begins the moment a child is born – every sound and sight she hears and sees makes an impression on her, and the environment a child is in largely shapes her. Having said this, formal education plays a significant role in shaping a child’s personality and intelligence and the playschool is the first milestone in this process. It’s no wonder that nowadays parents pay a lot of attention to choosing the first school for their little one: in this context, the methods a school follows have become as important as its standing and reputation. In this first article of Building Blocks, we talk about the different learning philosophies that are gaining popularity in India today. By the end of this article, you should have a pretty good idea of which philosophy best meets your needs and fits your child’s temperament.
Worldwide, the most well-known and trusted early learning methods are the Montessori method, the Waldorf method, the Playway method, and the Reggio Emilia approach. Most of us have heard of Montessori schools, though the other methods are gaining recognition as well.
The Montessori Method
In India, the term ‘Montessori’ has come to be applied to any playschool around the corner. It is a much-loved term, used in the advertisements of such schools to attract unawary parents. When you say Montessori, parents imagine free and unstructured classrooms with a focus on sensorial learning through toys. In fact, Montessori is all this and much, much more!
Dr. Maria Montessori, who detailed this method in the early part of the 20th century, found that kids naturally want to learn, and could learn much just by interacting with other children and with their environment.
The philosophy’s premise
- A typical Montessori classroom includes one trained teacher and one aide.
- The class has around thirty kids, not segregated by age. This mixed-agegroup class allows children to socialise with each other (as most learning is social).
- It is a developmental programme that considers the nature of the child and tailors the activities to her needs.
- A classroom has many student resources, from musical instruments to counting blocks and clay. Children are free to use these materials at any time during the school day.
- Activities stress the independence of the child, allowing her to experiment with anything that catches her fancy and use any of the materials set out.
- For older children, all subjects are taught in an interconnected manner, allowing them to draw parallels and references. This principle is called Cosmic Education.
- There are no grades, rewards, or punishments- the goal is improvements in behaviour, in the level of work, and the child’s sense of contentedness.
- The teacher acts as a guide, constantly observes each child and maintains a portfolio. This is discussed periodically with the child’s parents.